Rural outsourcing and bad reporting by the New York Times

One wouldn’t expect this ill-written an article from the New York Times.  In how many ways can  you catalog the errors here?

Pic courtesy New York Times

Pic courtesy New York Times

You can start by wondering whether someone who cannot even spell “Gandhi” correctly is qualified to write about India.  But we are inured to mis-spellings of Gandhi, so I shall pass that by.

But what about statements like these :

Over the decades a Ghandian fondness for — some say idealization of — rural life has also kept people in their villages, where the bonds of caste and custom remain strong.

Really?  I must be mistaken, then, in thinking that one of  India’s big problems is the exact opposite – the large scale migration to the cities because the villages are so backward, leaving overcrowded cities with creaking infrastructure.

One can wonder at the inability to get other names too, correct.  Towards the end of the article, the author, Lydia Polgreen, quotes a woman called K. Aruna, later referred to as Ms. Aruna.  But in the very next paragraph, Ms. Aruna mysteriously morphs into  Ms. Karuna.

Is she Karuna or K. Aruna?

Is she Karuna or K. Aruna?

This error has been corrected in the current online edition and we learn that she was K. Aruna after all.

While these mistakes abound, they detract from what should have been the real focus of the story. Ms. Polgreen quotes a Rural Shores employee in Bagepalli, Karnataka – R.  Saicharan,  on how his team of 20 processes as much as 13,000 time sheets of American truck drivers each day.  Which means that, assuming they work non-stop for 10 hours every day, they would still need to process 65 time sheets every hour, or more than 1 per minute.  And for this level of sheer drudge work, they get paid about $ 60 per month.  Not per hour, or even day or week.  Per Month.

The irony is that because  even this abysmally low pay is considered “excellent” in rural India, whichever American trucking company is outsourcing  is already saving an er, truckload of money.  But Rural Shores is not the company it outsourced to – Rural Shores is a sub-contractor base

So now we see a systematic change in the outsourcing industry model as outsourcers become middle-men, outsourcing their contracts to other, even lower-cost outsourcers.  That, to me, was the real point of the story, that Ms. Polgreen completely failed to highlight.   There are so many side-streets she could have explored here, like whether this off-shoot to the rural sector is driven by a shortage of call center workers in urban areas, or wage pressures increasing, or further recessionary cost cutting pressure from the American client.

I notice that Hari Kumar (from Bangalore?) has contributed reporting, but perhaps the New York Times should have just outsourced this article to an Indian reporter in Bagepalli. He/ she would probably have done a better job.


5 thoughts on “Rural outsourcing and bad reporting by the New York Times

  1. Isnt it amazing that a weeks visit makes them an expert on all the ills that ails India?
    I know the guys who run this place at Bagepalli..must forward your post to them …

  2. my disenchantment with the MSM is on the rise. somehow it is more fun and more informative to read alternative media !
    outsourcing the article to burkina fasso would have also, possibly, yielded better content 🙂

  3. This should never come as a shocker. Is it covered in The New York Times that India’s GDP prior to UK arrival of the subcontinent in 1857 was quarter of the world’s share and a simple 3% in 1950? That Hope Diamond taken from Great Britian is sitting in USA today? I’m not quite sure what they did with the other largest diamond Kohinoor and all the rubies and gold along with the diamonds. Is it known that one is taxed up to 40% in the US including daily sales taxes? A good portion of the taxes supports the single parents of US? If you read the book Women an The Economy 2004 by Hoffman/Averett you will quickly learn 1/5 white children grows up with one parent by 18 that 1/6 teens are pregnant that 50% of black children grow up with one parent as well by 18; that teenage pregnancy in US is 600% higher than even Europe. I am not trying to blasphemize just state that US needs to stop blaming other countries for its problems. It is a great country for alot of things; passing minimum wage laws in the late 40’s, it’s treatment of welfare recipient all social service programs; but they are not providing enough incentives for businesses to hire from home which is not fault of another country. US Secretary of State reported 50,000 companies from US shipped to China for manufacturing. Millions of jobs this created for Chinese economy; India has a fraction of jobs that could have been taken by US employees. Only 1/4 adults in US has a Bachelors Degree- India is a mass producer of educated applicants. We have a Goddess named after Education after all – Sarasvati. PM Singh and ones before enforced protectionism in India- it allowed for phenomenal growth prior to allowing foreign markets to enter markets. US needs to adopt same strategy; if that is they have a viable pool of applicants homegrown. Many are deterred from pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in US because it can run up to $60,000 for the four year program or more; State universities alone cost about $10,000 per annum for just tuition and books.

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